soon kicks off a weeklong celebration on behalf of the more than 50 million
students who are learning and growing in our nation’s public schools.
Schools Week 2020 (Feb. 24-28), school systems large and small will showcase the
good news happening inside their classrooms. This annual recognition highlights
the critical role public education plays in shaping our nation’s future
and underscores why it serves as the bedrock of our democracy.
that nine out of 10 children attend public schools, there is no better time
than now to speak out for our young learners.
celebration will get a jump-start when hundreds of superintendents—the CEOs of
our public school districts and America’s ambassadors of great learning—arrive
in San Diego for the 2020 National Conference on Education (Feb. 13-15),
hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents Association. Year in, year out,
this annual gathering attracts some of the country’s foremost education thought
leaders addressing the needs of every child, every day.
Our last school visit in Morocco took us
to the Rabat American School. Principal Sean Goudie was a most welcoming and
gracious host. The school is brand new and located in a spacious campus by the
shores of the Atlantic Ocean. They accommodate 450 pre-k to 12th grade students
who come from 44 different countries. The majority, however, are American and
This year’s AASA International Seminar is special. The delegation includes current AASA President Deb Kerr, President-elect Kristi Sandvik and Past-presidents Pat Neudecker, Amy Sichel and Gail Pletnick.
year at this time, the AASA International Seminar takes superintendents and
other interested parties to other parts of the world. The intent is to learn
about the educational systems and cultures in the places we visit. These trips
never fail to make an impression on the participants.
This year’s trip to Morocco is no exception. It’s an hour bus ride through arid, desolate land to our first school visit to a tribal school in the remote hills outside of Marrakech. A brown landscape is sprinkled with the occasional green of scrub vegetation.
We learn from our guide that the school is very excited about our visit and that they have been preparing for it for days. This will not be a typical school visit. We are in a remote area that is home to one of the many isolated tribes that have occupied the territory for hundreds of years.
Off in the distance from our
hotel, one could spot the infamous Hollywood sign perched on the Santa Monica
Mountains. They say Hollywood is where the stars are. As far as I was concerned,
the only stars that mattered were the 2,000 superintendents and other
administrators who joined us in the City of Angels to celebrate excellence in
school system leadership.
As families coast to coast are celebrating this blessed Thanksgiving holiday, I am so proud of the more than 13,000 school district leaders who are working diligently to enhance the lives of our young learners.
Thank you for the powerful contributions you are creating and providing on behalf of the future leaders of society.
Thank you for serving as a voice for our public schools, the real lifeblood of our democracy.
As long as I’ve been working in public education, this time of year has always been very special. On behalf of the entire AASA family, we hope our superintendents and those aspiring to become superintendents have a fantastic school year filled with the creation of positive solutions that will translate into greater academic outcomes for our students.
I’ve been saying for years that superintendents are the nation’s foremost thought leaders in public education. Last week, our school system leaders spoke out about some very critical issues that directly affect the lives of our students. We need to listen to what was said and do something about it.
July is always a special time for AASA. Hundreds of superintendents across the country—some of the sharpest minds in public education—gathered in the nation’s capital last week to discuss some of the most critical issues in public education as part of our annual Legislative Advocacy Conference.
The meeting marked three days of invaluable conversation focusing on such hot-button issues as school safety, appropriations, career and technical education, the Higher Education Act, teacher shortages, IDEA and Medicaid. AASA members—individuals I often refer to as “champions for children”—made their voices heard by visiting members of Congress from their respective districts and states to share opinions on these important matters.
As we continue to observe this month’s 64th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that struck down segregation in public schools, we must be mindful that much work still needs to be done on behalf of the millions of children growing and learning in our classrooms.
To quote Chief Justice Warren:
“In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he (or she) is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”
I couldn’t agree more.
We are now at a time when our schools are being torn apart by gun violence. We’re at a time when more than 50 percent of the children attending our schools are living in impoverished conditions. We’re at a time when we must scale up the dialogue in our country that we view every public school as the foundation of our communities.